Friday, January 27, 2017

Resolving cell phone addiction by erradicating fear

A situation recently arose in which I found myself in conflict with myself, wanting to help a person that was also in conflict with himself. Interestingly enough, we both were experiencing the same conflict at the same time, and neither of us knew how to resolve it.  I write this post because perhaps I have found the answer in reading Volume 1 in A Course in Miracles, and I think it's worth recording and sharing this small bit of wisdom.  If you wish to reference my source, look to pages 25 and 26.

He called me on the phone, great concern in his voice, about an issue requiring my attention.  If seems that the text messages we enjoyed exchanging during the day were causing him distraction from other important areas of his life.  While he sincerely desired to chat with me, the ongoing dialogue was interefering with his present moment awareness and personal daily responsibilities and interests.  Oops.  This particular exchange of messages and the voice call he made to me to resolve the problem also occurred specifically when my time was needed in putting my children to bed.  His time was also committed at that moment to band practice.  So we were both stuck in the lurch.  The concern in his voice was significant enough that it led me to focus on his needs before that of my children, and the urgency of the problem led him to need to address it right away, as he is responsible for things in that way.

Text messages seem to offer me an enjoyable virtual reality or parallel universe that might cause the rest of the world to diminish its significance.  Hands free devices aside, the problem requires a resolution.  So we talked about it, I reduced use of my phone, and assumed the problem was resolved.  But maybe, a part of me knew that I didn't really resolve it. The split present moment awareness problem of existing in the physical world around me as compared with the present moment problem of of being accessible in short order by cell phone is one that I have struggled against since I first bought a device in 2003. I think it's a problem that many of us struggle against.  I could likely cite a great many statistics about distracted driving here, or perhaps the cell phone industry.

So upon waking far too early this morning, I checked Facebook until I was bored.  Worked on some writing.  Made coffee.  Realized that my mind didn't feel as securely healthy as I wished it did.  So rather than allow myself to ruminate in whatever thoughts were present as a goldfish swimming in dirty water, I turned to my to-read shelf to seek the wise thoughts of another to break my thinking pattern.  The book I selected this morning was A Course in Miracles, as I mentioned.  Sitting and reading, in short order I found a bit of wisdom that seemed to usefully apply to the situation previously described.

"Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness." page 22
Ok, this is useful.  I thought of myself expressing annoyance with my children, as they misbehaved at bedtime when I was focusing on a phone conversation with our dear friend to resolve his concerns rather than focusing on the last comforting moments of the day.  I was a bit gruff with them, instructing them to lie in their beds, don't talk and go to sleep while I talked on the phone.  I was uncomfortable with myself both for placing the conversation as priority and also for speaking sternly with the children right before bed.  I often struggle with speaking sternly with the children before bed, but I have been working towards what we call "gentle bed times."

We are in chapter 2 of the book, which explains atonement, or at-one-ment, is understanding that we ourselves are never separate from God, or the Universe, or the great source of creation.  When we are feeling separate, it is actually fear that is interfering with our ability to be our true self.  Interesting.  So it's possible to think our way our of fear and heal our minds to greater levels of comfort in life.  I'm in.

Page 25 - Strain in our minds is the presence of fear.  It exists when what we want conflicts with what we do. There are two types of this conflict.

(1.) We make conflicting choices. In other words, our behavior doesn't match our priorities.  This causes us to mad at ourselves because we aren't acting in harmony with what we know is right.

(2.) We behave as we think we should, but without entirely wanting to.  So our behavior is consistent with our priorities, but there is still strain because a part of us doesn't want to behave that way.

Both types of mind/behavior discord leads to strain caused by underlying fear.  Discord is when we do something that we don't entirely want to do. It causes negative thoughts, emotions, and undesirable behavior. It is certainly frustration, and can sometimes spark rage or coercion within ourselves.  Coercion in ourselves leads to projection, or falsely placing blame for our own internal struggle on the outside world.  Our mind becomes split.  Is it me or is it something outside of me? This causes erratic behavior.  So, returning to the two types of conflict listed above, we try to correct the problem with our thoughts by shifting from type (1.) to type (2.).  But even as we know how we should behave, a part of us still doesn't want to, so we experience strain, because a part of us remains afraid. . The only way to correct this problem within ourselves is to accept a unified goal. Our decision to behave in a certain way must be internally unified.

Sounds great, but I happen to know that this is easier said than done.  As much work as I have done on myself over the years, some unmet need within myself will arise that will cause unacknowledged fear leading to internal conflict.  In the case of excessive cell phone use, I revel in the pleasant knowledge that I am on the minds of people not near to me.  I feel loved.  Maybe a part of me is a bit afraid that if I don't respond, those on the other end of the line will not feel similarly loved.  Maybe they will reject me.  Bringing these thoughts to the surface allow me to remind myself to trust.  It's a reminder that I do need from time to time.

If breaking out of the fear based pattern causing strain is not simple or obvious, this awesome book breaks it into smaller steps that we may find useful.

The First: Conflict is the expression of fear. 

The Second: Fear arises from lack of love.

The Third: The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.

The Forth: Perfect love is the Atonement.

So... I could try to explain what the Atonement is here, but it seems that this is a major goal of the entire 622 pages of book I have in front of me.  So please understand that any summary I attempt is likely grossly inadequate.  But in this particular application, and based on my own background experience trying to be the best person I can possibly be myself, it seems that we need to find a way to reconnect ourselves to God, nature, the Universe, plug in to universal truth, or put life in perspective somehow.  I think each of us must find our own way to do that, and we all spend our lifetimes seeking fulfillment through the various ways we discover in our earthly experiences to reconnect and find relief from the universal experience of fear.

Peace to you and yours.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Library Game Creation

Late February
My thoughts from reading the book: 
Lee, Carol K. and Fay Edwards. 50 Games to Play in the Library or Classroom. Alleyside Press, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 1988.

This book offers a short introduction and list of helpful hints.
  • Games are useful teaching tools that help students to score well on standardized tests
  • Students enjoy information presented in game format
  • Creating instructional games requires time, effort, and a healthy dose of imagination.
  • Endless variations are possible, starting with some solid basic ideas.
  • Students can be included in creating games.
  • Quality instructional games are marketable, and so is teaching game creation.

It then goes on with descriptions of each game, including instructions to play and lists of the physical game objects the game needs.  

Some things I considered as I read through the game descriptions:
  • What is the nature of the game?
    • Themes
    • Visual appearance
    • Game format examples,  
      • steps along a journey,
      • races,
      • popular sports,
      • answering questions for points (variations on Jeopardy),
      • random question selection (questions hidden under flaps or in pockets, dice, fishing, spinners, etc.),
      • bingo,
      • memory,
      • matching games,
      • classification,
      • fighting against something (ie killing bad guys or taking away points to zero),
  • What represents the player? Place holders - clothes pins, self, numerical score, stack of cards that have been answered correctly, avatar
  • How do questions arise in the game? How are they presented? Index cards, electronically,

The book was inspired me to consider the project of creating some games based on the information fluency continuum (IFC) that is now supposed to be the basis of school library instruction in New York State.  I did not enjoy the benefit of studying this curriculum in college, as it was released after I completed my MLS, and I did not enjoy the benefit of having a school district support me in learning the curriculum, as I was not working at the time it was adopted. I am interested in soliciting support from SLMS that are aware of the finer points of the IFC in the games I create so please do not hesitate to contact me with thoughts or comments.

I would really love to have Rochester Area School Librarians (RASL) do a game creation workshop at The Strong Museum.  We could create a variety of games and then trade game ideas with each other so that we were all able to benefit from the work of each other.  RASL could use an online format to brainstorm ideas for subjects of games, and we can them form small creative groups to design game prototypes in our workshop. I’d really like to see a formally moderated critique so that we can share our knowledge and impressions of the games with each other.  It would be necessary to write up a formal description of the final games so that we can share the fruits of our labor with each other.

A few days after I wrote that up, University at Buffalo sent me this:

WNYLRC Workshop: Get Your Game On!
Bringing Badges to the Library: Embracing 21st century Assessment
Click here to register!
Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2016; from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Description: Many educational reformers have suggested that Digital Badges can transform how learning is currently measured, motivated, and supported. But like many pedagogical tools, a digital badge’s value is highly dependent on the learning opportunity and the learner. This is especially true in informal education where so much good learning occurs but is often, traditionally unrecognized outside of the setting where it occurred.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) recognizes the value of a badge program can apply to both staff and patrons at libraries: for example, staff can earn and display badges for various competencies (building teen collections, mastering a technology, etc.) that helps inform colleagues, employers and others that your library has that unique set of skills and knowledge. Badges present new ways of engaging with all different patrons by “gamifying” their library experience. A badge program can be integrated with other library programs to connect reading with other interests (gardening, science fiction, cooking, virtual or real travel, etc.)
This workshop, led by one of the nations' leading researchers on digital badges, will provide an overview of what digital badges are and what current research tells us on how they can support learning in libraries and other informal learning settings. Participants will have the opportunity to both earn and, more importantly, learn how to create digital badges that can best serve their patrons.
Location: WNYLRC Training Center (
CE Workshop: Yes
CE Hours: .3
Speaker: Dr. Samuel Abramovich. Sam Abramovich is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. His research is devoted to finding and understanding the learning opportunities between the intersection of the Learning Sciences and Emerging Technology. Shortly after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a Ph.D. in Learning Science and Policy, Sam was named a recipient of an Edmund W. Gordon MacArthur Foundation/ETS Fellowship. Prior to earning his Ph.D., Sam was a researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, a technology coordinator for the Rashi School in Newton, MA, and a serial dot-commer.
Max Class Size: 25
Heidi Bamford, Outreach & Member Services Coordinator
Western New York Library Resources Council, a member of the Empire State Library Network
Airport Commerce Park East
4950 Genesee Street, Suite 170
Buffalo, NY 14225-5528
(716) 633-0705 ext 114

Then I found out that the AASL conference this year will be held in Rochester, and the theme is Gaming as Meaningful Education.  Chris Harris, SLS director for Genesee Valley BOCES is the chair, and RASL communicates with him regularly.  Chris Harris has written several books on gaming, such as Libraries Got Game: Aligned Learning Through Modern Board Games. I had forgotten I knew how much work Chris Harris had put into promoting gaming in libraries, and how inspiring he is as a speaker.  Additionally, right here in Rochester, RIT offers a great game design and development degree program.  What an exciting opportunity this conference will be.  The will even be an after hours party at The Strong Museum.

Friday, February 12, 2016


I am so happy to be thinking about creativity again.  Seriously.  My dreams brought me back to it.

One night several weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with this thought in my head: "If you don't help Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle promote their Airigami Balloon Adventure, your career will be ruined."  And when my dreams give me messages, I listen. This one was firm and clear and accompanied with some intense insomnia.  So I got up, went to my computer, and began collecting email addresses for school leaders in the school systems in the five counties surrounding Rochester.  And I drafted an email to them about Journey on the Genesee.  And I promised to do more if I was needed.  I listen to my dreams, for they are the deepest truth I know.

I handed out a lot of bookmarks.  I talked about it where ever I went.  I help them back up the media attention they received.  I'm sad to say that only about 20% of the emails I sent out (using MailChimp) were opened.  I'm not sure how else to measure my impact.  But a lot of people attended the event, anyway. 45,000 people, I think.

A different kind of dream then redirected my attention - a dream of achievement.  A dear old friend posted this on Facebook: and I gotta say it really turned my head.  I don't remember telling Ryan about my past aspirations to academically study the phenomenon of creativity.  I remember Lorraine offering me a lot of really great advice on how to achieve that dream in the best way possible. I remember Billy Lictor responding to my aspiration by saying he was going to go a PhD in philosophy.  I don't remember telling Lisa,  but she remembers me telling her about it, and reminded me when I wasn't expecting it.  It was exciting to realize that the American Journal of Play might be a outstanding source of inspiration in my work toward the goal.  But I don't remember telling Ryan.  We had fallen out of contact when the dream was fresh, and I gave the dream little thought until he delivered that without even a comment. Sometimes I suspect that powerful forces are at work behind the scenes.  More than once I've suspected that lazy smart guy to be slightly magic.  It seems my friends won't let me forget that dream, which ten years ago, was the biggest dream I could fathom for myself.

Ah, the article.  It isn't even an article.  It is a citation to a journal that I do not have access to.  Basically it says "Science wants to let you know that creative people think differently!" I must read it, and learn more about their measurements.

Then, on a rare morning with a few minutes entirely to myself, I visited Henrietta Public Library.  Sometimes the new nonfiction section at this library seems to have stalked my life and displays at least one book aimed at each of my present interests.  This was one of those days.  I passed over perhaps five books that I might have selected to read if it were not for Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  Sometimes a book hits you at just the right time, and the impact is gorgeously big and beautiful.  I'm not sure yet if this book serves that need for me, but it did do one thing that has been silently nagging at me.  It got me think in such a way that forced me to write.  This was sorely needed.  I once considered myself a person that must write in order to understand things properly.  In all the turmoil I've weathered these past eight years, I have gotten away from that because I neglected to put words to paper.  I failed to allow my thoughts to take form.  Forgive me if I'm rusty.  My children have taken precedence.

I used to write obsessively.  Constantly.  It was my meditation.  I think lately ideas have been packed in my mind so tightly I'm not even sure how to let them out.  I'm like a joke can of mixed nuts that actually has spring snakes bound up inside.  All the ideas come out at once the moment I try to pry off the lid.  There is much work to be done.

The thing I love best about the book so far is that Gilbert might understand the many aspects to accessing information through thought forms for creative purposes, better than many spiritual students subscribing to the belief that thoughts are things.  (For more on thoughts as physical objects, check out mike Dooley  She says that in order to be a proper channel, to be selected by an idea as the person to make an actual thing here in our physical world, based on a concept in the spiritual world, we must prove our selves as creators to be hard working and ready to offer our life over to the manifesting of the great big beautiful idea.  Yes.  I haven't created much in recent years because I haven't been in a position to put in the hours needed to give great ideas the life they deserve.  I have been busy creating a foundation for my children's lives, studying libraryland for what it is, and also floundering around like a fish out of water because I've been living in poverty.  And these tangents are valuable because they have given me more than enough material from which I may draw creative ideas to communicate.

Much more to follow.  Stay tuned.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Advocacy Through Narrative.

Today, I find it completely necessary to look into the action of finding value in one's self as a support person.  This is an integral part of library advocacy, and also very beneficial to non-tangibles, like feelings of self-worth in the face of obstacles, and understanding the elements of successful community building.  When we consider important tangible tasks, such as allocating funds, creating budgets, offering achievement awards in recognition of accomplishments, or defining accomplishments, et cetera, we must have something on which to base decisions and value judgements. Two types of evidence support an argument: statistical and narrative.

It is my understanding that funding in library land seems to rely too heavily on quantifiable measurements.  How many people walked through the door of the library each day?  How many items circulated?  How many reference questions were addressed?  How many times did the phone ring, and how many times was it answered?  How many items were overdue, and how much money was lost or raised based on items lost and fines created and then paid or not paid? These are all useful measures, I am sure, but in my heart I know that there must be more to understanding the value of supporting others than by these quantifiable measures. Studies have shown that well employed narratives can be even more effective in persuasion than statistics.  (

Sharing a touching story about an individual visiting the library with a problem, building a relationship with a librarian, and then resolving the problem (and others) more fully than they imagined possible, is an essential tool.  Librarians are charged with the task of helping both rescue individuals struggling in poverty, and also uplifting those precious people leading our community with outstanding achievements. Librarians are true catalysts for the continued existence of the American dream, even as some argue it is no longer possible.  Librarians find ways to prove these nay-sayers wrong, and the credit for the achievements rarely lands on their names because they are facilitators. Librarians are essential community members.  Yet, many towns and cities have fallen into wrongly thinking that librarians are an unnecessary expense, and libraries will be replaced by a massive robot  known as the Internet.

I adore narrative in another way that is worth mentioning.  It can serve as an outstanding source  of unexpected inspiration.  Sometimes, when I am reading fiction, I discover characters or events begin to remind me of people I know, or circumstances that exist in real life.  The fiction narrative begins to truly come alive for me.  I find I am inspired to think about things in a new way.  My perspective freshens.  I develop ideas.  Sometimes the likenesses are not quite clear cut.  A character reminds me of both myself and another person with whom I feel conflict or perhaps a person I don't know well.  Again, my perspective shifts.  I must stop reading and think carefully.  What meaning might I gather from these budding seeds this narrative has planted in my own consciousness?  How will I allow my understanding of true life to change?  Sometimes the ideas that grow are weeds, and sometimes they are beautiful blossoms.  I must take care to think critically about insights gathered from fiction narratives, as it is a powerful tool in deepening my understanding of life.

As a librarian, I wonder if I might help others by offering narratives that might be inspiring sources of information leading to a valuable shift in thinking.  On a good day, it is intuitively easy.  The resource I need to describe the idea I want to communicate comes to mind instantly.  Other times, people may be oblivious or even hostile to opening their minds to resources that facilitate new thinking.  It's a mixed bag.  I find it easiest to play with picture books, or comics, because the short, digestible length and and multiple pathways to meaning allows both words and visual images to create a quick, strong hook.  Sometimes I really love it when others find narratives that hook me, and other times I really wish this person and their narrative would just go away.  Far away.

Normally, we carry stories around inside us like they are some sort of secret, or they are filed away deep in an archive and irrelevant to the day's activities. Life is easier to live without constantly looking backwards.  But it is important to stop and take time to reflect.  We are all on a quest to explore our world, to sharpen our skills, to be entertained, to grow our neural network actively or passively.  There are consistent themes that serve as pathways to greater wisdom, visible across time and space.  Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung wrote about universal archetypes, and what joy it is to find aspects of ourselves in these stories. How I love discovering these themes and using them to deepen my understanding of life.  We must remember to be gentle with each other as we grow our minds together, because this is the beautifully vulnerable nature of building intelligence.  Sometimes we discover we need to make changes in ourselves.  And that can be scary. It requires work.

Reflecting on daily life may be useful source material for advocacy purposes.  We are all members of communities, and we must all work to support each other.  It is unsettling, but the majority of us are undervalued and disempowered. The current social order requires it. No one wants to see the massive upheaval that is necessary to make the changes that are needed to restore the planet to its proper balance.  But changes are coming, so we best prepare.  Wouldn't it be great if we could find more and better ways to advocate for ourselves and each other and things that matter by utilizing the powerful emotional force inherent within narrative?  

Examples of stories that show me myself and others often arise unexpectedly as literature containing information enters my life in an entirely haphazard, unorganized manner.  That's the way it is for a librarian without an actual library or book budget. You had better believe that my life has been quite a story.  And that story may never be told.  It seems counter-productive to stop the day to day flow of work and life, the act of endlessly supporting my family and online community, to reflect upon the way I offer value by being a volunteer Internet librarian between jobs and a single mother of two.  I am humbled by my incredible, interesting collection of friends, contrasted against my own apperntly terrible failure of a life. 

Online, I watch my social network grow, and we all build knowledge and become together. There is much amusement to be had, and high aspirations to reach, and dreams to explore.  Yet, in my own life I fear I've dug a deep, deep hole rather than aspired to reach a towering summit. A blog is a uesful tool to make note of my professional achievements.  I am told it is important that I take time specifically to write about the mile markers I encounter on my journey.  Some days are so rich with discoveries, I am a loss for words.  Ideas are beautifully abundant, and I imagine my Online friends take these things I offer and use them in powerful ways .  Other days are quieter, and I wait and wonder what great idea will find its way to me next? How I can notice the treasures before me right away, so that I may identify where the information needs to go so it may serve the best and highest purpose?

It’s tempting to talk a lot about myself, my story, and my life achievements in this blog entry.  I want to resist that urge. It feels self-indulgent.  It might be like wallowing in my inadequacies, or bragging about natural good fortune.  It might be like reliving things that I would rather keep to myself and allow to stay in the past.  Even as the years have pressed on, and the challenges of my journey have grown into a mountain whose summit has yet to appear before me, I don’t think that telling my own story will serve the best purpose.  Plus, there parts of my story that really hurt.  And then there is that time I was subbing at Arnett branch and the new page asked me questions about myself until I answered then he acted as if I was busted and in trouble for talking about my own life while I was working.  It sometimes seems as if I am living in a novel that is only partially created without a formula or a map of the plot.  There is so much meaning in each experience, but I'm not sure how to organize them or allow them to provide their best value to others.  Talking about my own experiences feels self-indulgent and wrong. Yet, people need inspiration, and courage, and love, and when I see others find a piece of their puzzle in my story, I find my life has created the meaning I’ve been seeking.  I am supporting others by having lived these challenges.

I can't explain how many times I've asked myself how to better improve my journey.  I have searched myself endlessly, thought I'd found my internal limits, and then another seeming impossible challenge would present itself. And then another.  The endless message seems to be that librarians aren't innovating enough!  I'm not innovating enough!?  How can I possibly earn professional achievements without being granted paid opportunities to work toward them? I live in a Facebook void!  The way out is slavery, I mean volunteer work. That's what I must do?  Might I offer my colleagues my life story as if it were a novel that brings tears to eyes from time to time? I fear they don't even care.  They are detached and self-interested.  We are all too humiliated to share.  We have been shamed by our communities, by Amazon, and by Google.  And our value persists.  Because all those people that thought libraries would become irrelevant were dead wrong.  And in many communities, libraries budgets have been gutted and everyone suffers.

I've worked a bit, but nothing that meets the needs of my family.  The bosses mostly just want to pass me around as a sub, and the amount of frustration that my family suffers from a lack of financial stability and a variable schedule is detrimental to my children and myself.

Here I sit, bleeding at the altar of my desk before a cheap computer and social media.  Sacrificed to those that have played games with peoples’ lives siphoning wages and personal security away from people that make a positive, valuable impact on the lives of others in order to line their own pockets or finance innovation that may or may not enjoy success.  Libraries are tried and true institutions that add value to communities. They are just as essential to the intellectual health of a community as a public school.  They serve everyone.

I have so many stories to tell, and in all honesty, I’m scared to tell them.  The stories of my ideas, the stories of my contributions, the stories of my successes, and the stories of my failures will all leave me feeling exposed to greater pain and greater frustration. I know that I have suffered enough.  I think people will use me as step stool, then forget about the person they’ve just stepped on to reach their own selfish goal.  The goal being a part time job without benefits!  I love it when people reach goals.  But I do not want to be walked over.  

How might I measure the impact of my activities in supporting my community through research and informal encouragement? It just so happens I have a real strength in understanding problems.  I can break things apart into manageable pieces then are then simpler to solve, but I'm also able to take a great deal of other ideas into account as I conceptualize solutions.  I am a creative thinker.  I do feel called to community work and serving through leadership, but developing the librarian skills and experience necessary to form that strong foundation of accomplishments to cite as evidence for my qualifications to lead, is, in essence, the greatest barrier to my long term success.  I’m climbing a sheer cliff with few foot holds. 

There must be a way to communicate the value I offer my patrons as I donate endless hours following hundreds of unorganized Facebook feeds and friends.  I offer people solutions.  Social networking is amazing and powerful.  But it doesn't fit on a resume. My friends, please share your thoughts?